Alvin Romansky Professor and the Distinguished Service Professor at Baylor College of Medicine Keynote Speaker at the 2016 Diamond Synchrotron Radiation User Meeting
Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is a powerful technique with the ability to add a new level of insight to the world of biological science. It is only in very recent years that the field of cryo-EM has truly blossomed. The development of cryo-electron microscopes means that the samples can be viewed in their normal state, contrasting from non-cryo-EM. This technique is becoming a key tool in the structural biologist’s arsenal and a cryo-EM revolution is on the horizon.
Diamond Light Source is an epicentre of science; it provides high intensity X-rays via its beamlines as well as an extensive suite of complementary facilities including cryo-EM for biosciences at the Electron Bio-Imaging Centre (eBIC) which was officially opened in 2017. By establishing eBIC on the Diamond site, bioscientists are offered a holistic approach to their research, due to the opportunity to employ a variety of techniques from the traditional synchrotron based ones to cryo-EM.
Synchrotron light sources have a key role in determining the structures of vast varieties of biological macromolecules. Cryo-EM provides a new way to ascertain this information and to do so with a differing viewpoint. The combination of benefits from these complementary techniques gives us the most realistic picture of what is happening. Bottlenecks are apparent throughout the cryo-EM procedure however by employing techniques garnered by the Macromolecular Crystallography beamlines, these can be overcome.
The ultimate goal is real-time physiology, to observe a virus attack a cell; to see which sites the virus locks onto, its ambush strategy and how the cell responds. This is an exciting time and Diamond has positioned itself to play a global role in this.
Chairman of the Board of Directors
2017 marks the double celebration of Diamond Light Source; the first is Diamond’s 15th anniversary and the second signifies ten years of research and innovation. To help celebrate this special occasion, HRH The Princess Royal visited Diamond along with other dignitaries. The event was a fitting tribute to staff members, contractors and users who together contribute to making Diamond a continued success and such a unique place to work.
As the UK’s national synchrotron, Diamond is a world leading facility. With ten years of scientific experiments and currently 28 operational beamlines, Diamond is a powerful generator of knowledge for academia and industry. In 2016 Diamond began implementing its 10-Year Vision strategy, focussing on the impact synchrotron science can make on wider society.
Beyond its 9,000 research visits each year, Diamond also welcomes an additional 6,800 visitors of whom over one third hail from secondary schools. It is wonderful to see Diamond providing access to students and the general public so that they too can see physical theories and equations in action. This is something that Diamond wants to build upon in the future.
With the double celebration underway, Diamond proud of its successful and powerful past, is confidently looking to the future. This is an exciting time.
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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